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CHAPTER L

“THE GLORY OF THAT LIGHT”

“Now have I seen Thee and found Thee,

For Thou hast found Thy sheep;

I fled, but Thy love would follow —

I strayed, but Thy grace would keep.

Thou best granted my heart’s desire —

Most blest of the blessed is he

Who findeth no rest and no sweetness,

Till he rests, O Lord, in Thee.

O Lord, Thou seest, Thou knowest,

That to none my heart can tell

The joy, and the love, and the sorrow,

That my own heart knows so well.

But to Thee, O my God, I can tell it —

To Thee, and to Thee, Lord, alone;

For Thy heart my heart hath a language,

For other hearts it hath none.

In the wide world, speechless and lonely,

For me is no heart but Thine;

Lord, since I must love Thee only,

Oh reveal Thy heart to mine.

‘Wouldst thou know My glory, beloved?

Know Me, the great I AM?

First must thine eyes behold Me,

The slain and the stricken Lamb.

‘My visage so marred more than any,

My form than the sons of men;

Yet to the heart I have won Me,

I am the fairest then.

Thou knowest the sun by his glory —

Thou knowest the rose by her breath —

Thou knowest the fire by its glowing —

Thou knowest My love by death.

‘Wouldst thou know in My great creation

Where the rays of My glory meet?

Where to My awful righteousness

The kiss of My peace is sweet?

Where shine forth the wisdom and wonder

Of God’s everlasting plan?

Behold on the cross of dishonour

A cursed and a dying man.’” — Henry Suso

“AND it came to pass that one day when he was eighteen years old, he went alone into the chapel, when all the monks were at dinner in the refectory. And he stood there utterly dark and miserable, for he was weary of all things, and he knew not where to go for help or comfort.

“And it was to him at that moment, as though a Presence were with him, and a sudden light and glory filled his soul, and he saw and heard in his innermost heart that which no tongue can tell, and no heart of man can conceive. And his soul was filled with longing, and yet was satisfied, and thirsted no more, and all the things that he had desired were now as nothing to him, and all his desire for them had passed away. Whether it were day or night he knew not, for he had tasted of the sweetness of the eternal life, and he knew that He who was present with him, was the Lord.

“And thus he remained lost in joy and rest, and he said to himself, ‘If this is not heaven, I know not what heaven can be, for all that could be suffered here below were small and even as nothing, to him to whom eternal gladness such as this is, shall be given.’

“And when he came to himself, he seemed to himself as a man who had come from another world. And he fell down, and he sighed in his heart a fathomless sigh, and he said, ‘O my God, where have I been? where am I now? O Thou blessed of my heart, this hour shall never pass away from me for ever and for ever.’ And he went on his way, and no man saw or knew that he was another man. But his heart and soul were filled with the heavenly wonder, and with the glory that he had seen, and he was as a box which has been filled with a sweet perfume, and the odour is left behind, when the perfume is poured out. And from that moment of heaven, his heart henceforward longed with a deep desire after God.”

It was the custom in the convent, that during meals one of the monks read aloud, sometimes portions of the Bible, sometimes other books. But shortly after the day of which Henry Suso has told us, it came to pass that when the monk stood up to read, these were the words which he read, and to Henry Suso they were new and marvellous.

“Hear ye, children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things that thou canst desire, are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is every one that retaineth her. The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth, by understanding hath He established the heavens. My son, let them not depart from thine eyes, keep sound wisdom and discretion. So shall they be life to thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in the way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.”

“And,” says the story, “when he heard these beautiful sayings read aloud in his ears, at once he thought in the longing of his heart, ‘Oh what a love is that! Might I but have such an one to be mine, oh well it were with me.’ But as yet he knew not who and what was it, of whom the words were written. And he thought, ‘Can I love that which I do not know, and which I have never seen? But gladly would I have such an one to be my beloved, and I would be her servant.’ And he prayed saying, ‘O God, might I but see the One I desire, and might I hear her voice if only once, and hear her speak to me! O Lord, who is the beloved one of whom Thou hast spoken such glorious things? Is it God, or is it man or woman? or is it a knowledge, or a cunning art? Lord, tell me what it is.’

“And as he strove to see in his mind that which should answer to the holy words of the Scripture, his eyes were opened, and he saw as it were One high in heaven, in the glory of the holy place, One who shone as the morning star, and was bright as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And His crown was eternity, and His robe was salvation, and His speech was sweetness, and His presence was a delight, that satisfied all the heart. He was far and near, and exalted and abased; He was present and He was hidden; He called the soul to His companionship, yet none could comprehend Him. He reached aloft above the highest heaven, He humbled Himself to the depths of the fathomless abyss; He was on all sides, from end to end of all things, and all things were ordered sweetly by the skilfulness of His love.

“And he who had given himself to a blessed Virgin, had found in her place a glorious Lord.”

Yes, even so, for he knew that the One whom his soul had seen was not Mary, but Christ.

“And thus,” he says, “did the Eternal Wisdom bend over him in tender love, and greeted him with a blessed welcome, and spake to him, and said: ‘My son, give Me thine heart!’ And he fell down before His feet, and humbly thanked Him from the depths of his soul. All this was given to him then, and there was nothing more to give.”

From this time did Henry Suso call himself by one name alone. “The servant of the Eternal Wisdom.” “And after these things,” he says, “he would often times speak to his heart and say, ‘O heart of mine, whence come love and gladness, and tenderness and beauty, and delight and sweetness? Have they not flowed down to thee from the great depths of God alone? Awake then, awake, O heart and soul and strength, and cast thyself into the depths of all blessed and glorious things! For now my heart is free to go forth in gladness, unfettered, and to find all the burning thirst of love forever quenched in Thee!’

“And it was even thus to him, that all that is good was his, given to him in the gift of the water of life, that flowed into his soul from God.

“And thus henceforward, whensoever he heard the singing of hymns and psalms, or the sweet sound of harps and lutes, or when he heard men speaking of human love and tenderness, then swiftly did he enter into the secret place of his Beloved above all beloveds, where are the hidden springs whence all that is truly love floweth forth to men.

“And it was to him as to a little child, whom the mother takes under the arms, and makes it to stand upon her knees, and the child leans forward with head and arms outstretched, to delight himself in the love of his mother, and lovely and pleasant is his gladness, which he cannot speak, but it moves his limbs, and is beautiful in his face.

“And he would speak to the Lord and say, ‘O my Lord, he who is wedded to a Queen thinks it a joy and honour. But I am espoused to Thee, the Giver of all Grace! In Thee have I riches unfathomable, in Thee have I power to do all things. And could all the earth be mine, what more could it add to that which Thou hast given to me!’”

“And,” says one who speaks of him, “his countenance became so glad, and his eyes so filled with God, that it was as if his heart were ever singing, ‘Above all joy, beyond all beauty, is He who is the gladness and the fair Presence in my heart, for with Him joy ever follows me, and all things are mine in Him, and He is mine.’”

And now when May came, “the month of Mary,” it was no longer with him as in the former days. For to him the month of May was now the month which told him of “the fairer things of the spiritual Maytime,” and not to Mary, but to the Eternal Wisdom, would he speak and sing, saying, “All hail to Thee, Thou heavenly May, Thou the Eternal Wisdom, Thou in whom are the blossom and the fruit of everlasting joy! O Lord, I love Thee for the red roses of Thy bitter suffering, I adore Thee for the little violets of Thy lowliness, and the lilies of Thy purity, and for all the flowers of many colours, and of glowing brightness, the flowers of the heaths and downs, of the woods and meadows, the blossoms of the fields and trees, which the fair May-time bringeth forth, and which were in days of old, and ever shall be! I kiss Thy feet, beloved Lord, for all things speak of Thee. And for all the gladsome songs of little birds, which ever have been sung upon the branches of the May, my heart praiseth Thee, O Lord, and for all the sweetness and the beauty of all the Mays of all the years, I sing to Thee, O Lord, in my heart and soul, and I pray Thee that Thou, the blessed May, wilt grant me to praise Thee in the short years of this present life, and that I may rejoice in the fulness of Thy joy for evermore.”

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